I’m fascinated with how people make big decisions.
Some of you have no problem making a big decision. Others get overwhelmed and confused into paralysis.
Which category do you fall into?
Are you the first type? Do you generally think, “I got this…bring it on!”
Or are you the second type, more of a “I’m so confused and am looking for clarity” type of person.
I realized I was the second type about midway into my 40s. I was actually quite surprised by myself.
I was about 15 years into my career and the specific job I held for 19 years. I realized I was bored to tears. The job looked really good “on paper” and I loved my five week paid vacation and family benefits. But I was miserable.
I whined all the time.
I told friends I was confused.
I felt super stuck.
Then I received a gift.
A beautiful gift, wrapped up in the harsh disguise of a lay off notice.
That gift changed everything.
On the one hand, the pressure to make a big decision about whether or not to leave my long term job was taken away from me.
But on the other hand, the door was opened for me to find a career path that was much more suited to who I had become and what I was interested in. And along the way, I also gained insight into myself and why I was so afraid to make this decision in the first place.
I struggled to make the decision to leave myself; yet I recognized the gift immediately.
I have learned that not everyone struggles with BIG decisions.
Take my new friend. I had the pleasure of meeting Abby and her husband on a recent vacation. They had made a HUGE decision to sell everything, make a big move and drastically change their lifestyle.
I couldn’t stop asking questions. I asked her to tell me everything.
- How did they figure out what they wanted to do?
- Were she and her husband in sync?
- How miserable were they when they decided to pack it in and move on?
- Were they scared?
Then I learned that they even had to re-home their beloved dog so that they could follow their dream, to make a career out of their mutual love of sailing. Leaving their furry friend was extremely difficult; they were so grateful that a close friend jumped at the chance to adopt him.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how they made this huge decision and if I could have made such a decision myself.
I doubt I could have made it quickly, that’s for sure.
They understood the opportunity they had in front of them and also the powerful pull of their dream. They embraced the fear of the unknown because they trusted their dream.
They regret-proofed their lives.
How do you make a big decision? Here are some tips:
Be clear about what you really want. This sounds simple, but not understanding what you really want is often the reason you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed. It’s usually easier to figure out how you’re FEELING vs. figuring out what you’re THINKING. They’re related though! Thoughts create your feelings. If you’re feeling confused, it’s because you’re thinking a thought that’s making you feel that way. Try to get at that thought. Listen to yourself.
Ask yourself if you would REGRET not doing what you have the opportunity to do. Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Decide if you want to live with that specific regret.
Listen for the word “should.” When you think about the choices you have, do you hear yourself thinking that you should do one thing or the other? If you do, ask yourself “why?” Make sure you like your reason. When you think that you should do it because of that reason, how do you feel?
Make a decision. The fastest way out of confusion is to make a decision. As soon as you do, notice yourself. What thoughts come into your mind immediately? How do you feel? If you’re not happy or content, this is a great window into the world of what you really want. Again, listen to yourself.
What do you think about the idea that DECISION-MAKING is a skill that you can get better at?
It’s possible to practice it, just like you would practice so many other new skills. You can become a better decision maker. Of course, we all make bad decisions sometimes but that’s part of life I guess.
Increasing awareness is the key to the insight you want. It really is time to regret-proof your life and solid decision making is a great start.
Feeling stuck about making a decision? Check out the 10 Suprisingly Simple Steps to Help You Bust Out of your Midlife Funk here.